The Red Pony
How we cite our quotes:
"He needs a good currying," his father said, "and if I ever hear of you not feeding him or leaving his stall dirty, I'll sell him off in a minute." (1.37)
Jody falls in love with his new pony the second he lays eyes on him. It is hard to imagine that the boy wouldn't give him the best care within his abilities. Plus, Billy is there to help him out. So why does Carl insist on giving this ultimatum? It hardly seems necessary. But then again, that's Carl.
The pony's eyes glittered, and he edged around into kicking position. But Jody touched him on the shoulder and rubbed his high arched neck as he had always seen Billy Buck do, and he crooned, "So-o-o, boy," in a deep voice. The pony gradually relaxed his tenseness. Jody curried and brushed until a pile of dead hair lay in the stall and until the pony's coat had taken on a deep red shine. Each time he finished he thought it might have been done better. He braided the mane into a dozen little pigtails, and he braided the forelock, and then he undid them and brushed the hair out straight again. (1.58)
As expected, when it comes to Gabilan, Jody doesn't consider his responsibilities as duties. Quite the contrary, he enjoys taking care of his pony. And he seems to be very good at it.
Jody looked reproachfully at Billy Buck and Billy felt guilty.
"You said it wouldn't rain," Jody accused him.
Billy looked away. "It's hard to tell, this time of year," he said, but his excuse was lame. He had no right to be fallible, and he knew it.
"The pony got wet, got soaked through."
"Did you dry him off?"
"I rubbed him with a sack and I gave him hot grain."
Billy nodded in agreement.
"Do you think he'll take cold, Billy?"
"A little rain never hurt anything," Billy assured him. (1.104-1.112)
Did everyone do their duty in this case? Not exactly. Though Billy can't be held at fault for mis-predicting the weather, he did promise Jody that he would be around, if it did rain. And he wasn't. In that regard, Billy did not do his duty. But he was at a nearby ranch with Carl when the weather turned bad and he couldn't leave until it cleared up. Should he have? Should he have risked his own health and his own horse's health to return and let Gabilan back inside? You make the judgment call.